Today is the first day of the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles. In conjunction with the Hip Hop Association they will be screening seventeen films revolving around hip hop lifestyle around the world. These films are also pushing to show the better more thought provoking side of hip hop that has been overlooked in mainstream media. Below is a full listing of the films and screening times.

PAFF 2008 HIP HOP FILM SELECTIONS

Akira’s Hip Hop Shop (US/Narr-short/37min)

Director: Joseph Dougherty

Los Angeles Premiere

A romantic comedy/drama about an expatriate Japanese hip hop DJ. When a young Black culinary arts student walks into his shop, his life is changed forever. Does love conquer all? Or will prejudice and politics drive the couple apart? Q&A.

Thursday, 2/14, 6:20pm; Saturday, 2/16, 11:15am

Antônia (Brazil/Narr/90min)

Director: Tata Amaral

Premiere

On the outskirts of São Paulo, four girls who have been singing together since their childhood fight to fulfill their dream of making a living with their music. Tired of singing back-up for male rap artists, they form their own rap group, find a manager and begin to put on shows in bars and parties. But, just as the dream seems to be coming true, their hopes are dashed by brutal violence, internal jealousies, unplanned pregnancy and the daily events which accompany poverty. Filled with R&B, soul and rap music, this energetic look into modern Brazilian life, explores cultural oppression, chauvinism and urban violence yet manages to stay engaging and upbeat especially in its depiction and appreciation of female friendship. Tuesday, 2/12, 8:40pm; Saturday, 2/16, 1:50pm

Art of Love and Struggle (US/Doc/79min)

Director: Jessica Habie

Premiere

A film of passion, profiling 12 amazing women delves deep into the underground movement of female artistry. Artists, singers, emcees, activists, poets and writers come together in an explosive exploration of feminine creation. Independent-minded women with voices that must be heard, each lady brings to the screen her innermost struggles in an attempt to outline the obstacles that face the female artist. Based in New York City, this journey is narrated by the mystical Smokifantastic, and navigates the challenges of poverty, politics and personal sacrifice while exploring love, identity and urban culture. Features artists Raqiyah Mays, Amanda Diva, Helena D. Lewis, Claudia Alick, Elizabeth Mendez Berry, Toni Blackman, Nemesis, Denise De La Cruz, Vista, Kyana Brindle and Rosa Clemente. In association with the Hip Hop Association; Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Monday, 2/11, 1:10pm; Wednesday, 2/13, 10.20pm

B.L.A.C.K.- An Aboriginal Song of Hip-Hop (Australia/Doc-short/26min)

Director: Grant Leigh Saunders

Premiere

"B.L.A.C.K. is a cipher scribed by independent and Australian Indigenous Hip Hop artist, Wire MC. Through interview and observation the song is deconstructed to speak of contemporary issues around Aboriginal blackness, politics and culture. The filmmaker aligns himself with Wire MC delivering a format equivalent to a Hip hop freestyle in order to draw a more powerful conclusion of what it means to be B.L.A.C.K. – Born Long Ago Creation’s Keeper." In association with the Hip Hop Association; Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Monday, 2/11, 6:30pm; Saturday, 2/16, 1:35pm

Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop (US/Doc/86min)

Director: Peter Spirer

Premiere

Retired first-grade NYPD detective Derrick Parker established a so-called "Rap Intel" unit following the murder of Notorious B.I.G. in 1997. The unit became officially sanctioned in 2000. In 2004, word of Parker’s secret unit was leaked to the press, unleashing a firestorm of controversy. Members of the hip-hop community–under girded by media outlets ranging from the Village Voice and Newsweek to the Miami Herald–argued that the NYPD’s rap unit blurred the line between monitoring and profiling. The ACLU launched a crusade against "hip-hop surveillance," which they deemed the "the new Cointelpro." Via exclusive, in-depth interviews with Parker–as well as rappers, security guards, civil rights activists and other members of the hip-hop community—viewers are taken inside the so-called "hip-hop patrol" in New York City and Miami. Esentially Parker’s story: how did a detective from Queens, New York, end up putting himself on the line for high-profile hip-hop acts? Is the entity he fashioned a necessary component of law enforcement or a blatant violation of civil rights? Narrated by Saul Williams. Q&A. In association with the Hip Hop Association; Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Tuesday, 2/12, 8:00pm

Bling: A Planet Rock (US/Doc/90min)

Director: Raquel Cepeda

Premiere

American hip hop artists travel to Sierra Leone to see the source of the diamonds that create the "Bling" and fueled the 10-year civil war in which over one million people were killed, maimed, raped or displaced. Making apperences are Kanye West, Ishmael Beah, Jada Kiss, Bishop Don Juan, Johnny Dang, Big Daddy Kane, Tego Calderon, Raekwon, Paul Wall. In association with the Hip Hop Association; Community Collaborator: JasmyneCannick.com; hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Wednesday, 2/13, 9:00pm; Saturday, 2/16, 9:10pm

Diamonds in the Rough: A Ugandan Hip Hop Revolution (Uganda/Doc/74min)

Director: Brett Mazurek

Los Angeles Premiere

The incredible journey of the hip-hop group the Bataka Squad, who use hip-hop to spread awareness of their country’s troubles, and to offer positive alternatives for the youth. Narrator Michael Franti, of Spearhead, guides us through an incredible journey from the riot-torn streets of Uganda to remote villages in the countryside and finally to the concrete jungle of the United States.

Babaluku and Saba Saba are the two remaining members of the Bataka Squad, Uganda’s first major hip hop group to rap in their native language, Luganda. We follow as Silas returns to his homeland to set up a charity foundation for young people living in Uganda’s ghettos, while Krazy concentrates on spreading their message to the international hip hop community. On the way we meet a host of other socially conscious hip hop artists from all over the world who use the microphone as a platform for change.

The voice of a new generation and heroes of their community, they are active, enthusiastic, and energetic young people more concerned about global change than the amount of change in their pockets. Their music teaches struggle with optimism and remaining positive against seemingly insufferable odds presenting a refreshing contrast to American commercialized "bling bling" gangster rap. Q&A. In association with the Hip Hop Association; Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Thursday, 2/14, 3:50pm; Friday, 2/15, 10:45pm

Gangsta Rap: The Glockumentary* (US/Narr/84min)

Director: Coke Daniels

Premiere

The hardest group you’ve never heard of is back; a mocumentary based on a group of over-the-hill gangster rappers (circa NWA) trying to make a comeback is a hilarious look at the soft underbelly of hardcore hip hop. Q&A. Friday, 2/8, 5:40pm

Hip-Hop Task Force Volume II: Studio (US/Narr/105min)

Director: Corey Grant

West Coast Premiere

Three cops assigned to monitor the hip hop industry are sent to Los Angeles to investigate the murder of rapper Elliott Jones. While investigating the murder, they uncover a web of corruption, deceit and greed as one by one they are drawn deeper into the story behind Jones’ journey from obscurity to hip hop superstar with lots of enemies. They soon find out what happens when simple rap lyrics turn deadly. Q&A. Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Wednesday, 2/13, 9:30pm; Monday, 2/18, 8:45pm

Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (US/Doc-short/63min)

Director: Byron Hurt

Premiere

A riveting documentary that examines representations of gender roles in hip-hop and rap music. Conceived as a "loving critique" from a self-proclaimed "Hip-Hop Head," it tackles issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip-hop culture. Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons are interviewed; along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kevin Powell, and Sarah Jones. The complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender are revealed through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country. The film provides thoughtful dialogue from intelligent, divergent voices of rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation. In association with the Hip Hop Association; Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Sunday, 2/10, 8:55pm; Monday, 2/18, 4:45pm

I Love Hip Hop in Morocco (Morocco/US/Doc/80min)

Director: Joshua Asen & Jennifer Needleman

Premiere

A group of Moroccan Hip Hop artists share a single dream: to rock a professional concert for a hometown crowd. Unfortunately, in addition to a lack of resources and freedom of speech, these young artists get virtually no support from their own society or cultural institutions. So, with the help of the American filmmaker, they appeal to the American Embassy for funding for the first Moroccan Hip Hop festival. Although the organizers face roadblocks along the way–diplomatic bureaucracy, disputes over money, unscrupulous stage-builders and general chaos of business in the Third World–they pull it off and the festival plays to massive crowds of young Moroccans in three cities, fulfilling the dream of the artists and catapulting Moroccan Hip Hop from the underground into the spotlight. In association with the Hip Hop Association; Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Friday, 2/8, 5:30pm; Monday, 2/18, 8:40pm

Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome (US/Doc/104min)

Director: Robert Patton-Spruill

Premiere

Public Enemy’s monumental impact on music and global culture over the past two decades is shown through behind the scenes interactions between Chuck D and Flavor Flav, live concert footage from shows as far flung as Moscow, Rio, Italy, Spain and the UK, and interviews with the Beastie Boys, Tom Morello (Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine), Henry Rollins, Talib Kweli and Jonathan Davis of Korn. Q&A. Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Saturday, 2/9, 10:20pm; Monday, 2/18, 4:10pm

Ras Star (Kenya/Narr-short/27min)

Director: Wanuri Kahiu

US Premiere

Teenage rapper Amani, from a staunch Muslim family, teams up with her brother Abdosh, an emerging con artist, to figure out a way to make money and get into the talent show finals. As the story unfolds, Amani and her brother get caught up with a local gangster and a stolen phone incident and use her brother’s glib tongue to get them out. Through absolute blind luck they manage to find the money they need only to come to blows with their Uncle Shaka, the family patriarch and Mlandimu, the local gangster who finally saves them.

Tuesday, 2/12, 1:15pm; Sunday, 2/17, 11:20am

Short Radiography of Hip Hop in Cuba (Cuba/Doc-short/20min)

Director: Ricardo Bacallao

Premiere

Despite significant social change in Cuba, Blacks continue to be ostracized and subjugated by a colonial outlook. In 1995, a group of creative young people founded the Rap Festival; since then, the government has taken control of the Hip Hop movement, undermining its intentions. This is the story of struggle within a struggle waged by Black youths trying to maintain their voice and control the product of their culture and creativity. Q&A. In association with the Hip Hop Association; Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Sunday, 2/10, 9:05pm; Saturday, 2/16, 4:15pm

Skid Row (US/Doc/97min)

Director: Niva Dorell, Marshall Tyler & Ross Clarke

Premiere

Skid Row is a 50 square block area in downtown Los Angeles where an average of 100,000 homeless and transient people live on any given night. Pras Michel — one-third of the successful hip-hop group The Fugees — lives on the streets of Skid Row for 9 straight days and nights as a homeless person. The entire time he and the filmmakers are undercover, using surveillance cameras in an area where cameras present a threat to anonymity. His goal: to find out what it really means to be homeless and to put a human face on an issue that has plagued our country for generations. His journey is riddled with hunger, exposure to the elements, criminals, drugs and danger. Pras learns not only to fend for himself, but discovers the dangerous, very human and at times humorous underbelly of Los Angeles. Q&A. Community Collaborator: JasmyneCannick.com. Sunday, 2/10, 6:00pm; Monday, 2/18, 11:10am

This is the Life (US/Doc/104min)

Director: Ava DuVernay

Premiere

In 1989, a collective of young artists gathered weekly at a small health food store in LA called "The Good Life.” Their mandate? To explore and expand the musical boundaries of hip hop. The little known story of a group of teenagers, who revolutionized hip hop by innovating the very rhyme patterns, melodic concepts and lyrical styles used by many of today’s biggest rap stars. While their innovations have yielded billions of dollars for the recording industry, the Good Life emcees have toiled in relative obscurity in the United States. But much like their jazz heroes of a bygone era, these street poets have garnered a rabid and musically sophisticated fan base abroad, with a cult-like following in Germany, Australia, France, England and Japan. A feature-length documentary, directed by former Good Life emcee Ava DuVernay, chronicles the rise and fall of an unusual family of artists, while examining their obstacles to commercial success. They all took different paths, but remain connected by the music they made, the alternative hip hop movement they developed, and their worldwide influence on the art form. Q&A. Saturday, 2/9, 8:20pm; Monday, 2/11, 8:00pm

Word?! I Didn’t Know (—–) Could Get Down Like That! (US/Doc-short/39min)

Director: Alexandra Lavelanet & Jaquita Ta’le

Los Angeles Premiere

Alex and Jaq, two American hip hop artists/fans, investigate hip hop culture overseas. From the block to the boardroom, everyone’s got an opinion: some think hip hop’s taken a turn for the worst, others think nothing moves but the money. In this era of big business and bling, the girls ask hip hop lovers, haters and makers worldwide "Is Hip Hop dead?" Q&A. Community Collaborators: hiphopradio.net; Poetess Media. Sunday, 2/10, 8:55pm; Monday, 2/18, 4:45pm